FIFA is the international Federation of Association Football. The second biggest soccer competition in the world, the FIFA under 20s (men), starts on Saturday in New Zealand. The organisers believe thousands of New Zealanders will attend the games and another 200 million people around the world will watch on television. Famous football stars, like Maradona, first became famous in the under 20s. The competition finishes on June 20th after 52 matches on 14 days with 8 rest days.
24 teams will play. There are 4 from each of these continents: Africa, Asia, North and Central America – including the Caribbean – and South America. Europe has 6 teams and Oceania has just 2: Fiji and New Zealand. The host country is always included. The teams are divided into 6 groups, Group A to Group F.
The matches will be played in 7 locations: Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Wellington in the North Island, and Christchurch and Dunedin in the South Island. If you are lucky enough to live near one of these cities, you will have the chance to see some fine games.
New Zealand has never hosted this event before. It is expected to cost $8 million dollars. Some of that is for improved facilities but most is for accommodation, food and travel for teams while in New Zealand.
As well as the teams, there will be 69 referees, and 1500 volunteers from 53 different ethnicities. Most of these volunteers will continue to support the game afterwards by coaching or helping in some way to involve young people. While rugby is the number one game in our country, this competition will help to increase the numbers of young people who play soccer.
The first match will be between New Zealand and Ukraine at 1pm on May 30th at North Harbour stadium in Auckland.
• continents – big land area, the 6th continent is Antarctica. Oceania is not a continent. It is an area in the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand.
• fine – great
• facilities – e.g. stadium seating, field for practising and for the match, changing rooms etc
• ethnicity – social and cultural group that people feel they belong to